Canola gets competition from soybeans

Canadian soybean acreage is likely to continue increasing

Canola faces fierce competition from other oilseeds like soy or sunflowers, according to research completed by agri benchmark.

The global non-profit network of agricultural experts completed three in-depth case studies of the on-farm competitiveness of rapeseed/canola versus other oilseed crops in Canada, Hungary and Ukraine.

Results were presented during the International Rapeseed Conference in Saskatoon in July 2015; key among them were:

  • Soybeans tend to be preferred when liquidity or production risk is an issue.
  • Canola is more responsive to intensive management and higher input levels, making it more successful on high-performing farms.
  • Crop mix influences oilseed choice. Wheat and canola go well together, while corn pairs well with soybeans or sunflowers.

The study showed that soybeans have clearly established themselves as the number two oilseed behind canola in Manitoba’s Red River Valley, with an average return of more than $200 per hectare — 45 per cent higher than canola.

The recent downward trend in commodity prices also favours soybeans, say study authors, as they have 30 per cent lower liquidity requirements than canola.

Shorter-season soy varieties and the changing climate are reducing production risks to growers, who can also get better use of labour and machinery from that crop because of how the soybeans’ later seeding and harvest times extend the cropping season.

Canadian soybean acreage has increased from 3.58 million acres in 2009 to 5.4 million in 2015.

In Western Canada, Manitoba acreage has increased from 415,000 acres in 2009 to 1.33 million in 2015. Saskatchewan recorded 300,000 acres in 2015.

In the Maritimes, acreage has risen from 35,000 to 82,000 and in Quebec from 598,000 to 778,000 acres during the same period, while Ontario’s seeded area has remained relatively stable.

And there promises to be more growth in the future for soybeans as new varieties, such as high oleic, come on the market that will open up new uses in both food and industrial applications.

High oleic soybeans

At the Canadian Conference on Fats and Oilseeds held in Quebec City this past October, Susan Knowlton, senior research manager with DuPont Pioneer, said high oleic soybeans were developed to meet the trans-fat solution for the food industry, but that additional applications have also emerged.

“When you compare high oleic soy to other high oleic oils, it has quite a bit more stability than other oils,” Knowlton said. “No matter what test we do, high oleic soy is a really, really stable oil and comes out on top in manufacturing and food service.”

A new vegetable oil-based multipurpose lubricant called Smart Earth Ecolube is now being made from Ontario-grown high oleic soybean oil, and manufacturer Smart Earth Corporation has additional products soy-based products soon to hit the market, including a grease and a bar and chain oil.

A study on Canadian vegetable oil consumption commissioned by Soy 20/20 shows that in 2013, a total of just over one million (1,080,885) metric tonnes of vegetable oils were consumed in food in Canada.

Of that total, approximately 20 per cent was soybean oil. The remaining 50 per cent was comprised of canola (42 per cent) and high oleic low linoleic canola (HOLL — at eight per cent), and imported oils and blends from 11 other plants such as palm, olive, coconut and corn.

“Soybean is the Canadian darling,” report author Josipa Paska, managing director of Fats and Oils Competitive Intelligence, stated in a presentation at the same conference.

“It’s the second-largest oilseed crop in Canada, and although Ontario is the largest producer, acreage is expanding in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and oil processing capacity is expanding in Quebec.”

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